One can argue about when science fiction appeared, but even according to the most conservative estimates, its history as a direction in literature is at least 200 years old. During this time, tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of novels, novellas and short stories were written, in which the authors described a fictional future. Unsurprisingly, there have been many very successful “top ten hits”. In this article we will tell you about the most interesting cases of predicting the future by science fiction writers.
Jules Verne’s novels are a textbook example of science fiction that predicted the invention of the future. So in the novels «Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea» (1869) and «The Mysterious Island» (1874) Jules Verne describes Captain Nemo’s submarine — «Nautilus».
The first attempts to create a submarine were even before Jules Verne, for example the rowing submarine of the Dutch mechanic Cornelius Drebbel or the submarine «Nautilus» (sic!) Of the American inventor Robert Fulton.
However, they were all slow, had a small capacity and could only pass very short distances under water and were in no way comparable to the submarine of Captain Nemo. In his novels, Jules Verne anticipated the appearance of large submarines with an electric propulsion system, capable of traveling considerable distances under water.
Other predictions that have come true Jules Verne include, for example: a helicopter, a solar sail, a jukebox, holograms, video conferencing and much more.
Jules Verne’s contemporary, Briton Wells is, in a sense, his complete opposite. If Verne’s novels are literally crammed with descriptions of inventions that really soon appeared, then Wells has only one such prediction.
In The Land of Armadillos (1903) Wells describes real tanks. The first real tanks appeared only 12 years later in 1915. But many other technologies described by Wells have not yet become reality. It’s a pity. A time machine would be great for us!
He also described similar devices
Arthur Clarke is one of the most significant science fiction writers of all time. In his works, many advances in science and technology are predicted, which later became reality, for example, the landing of a man on the moon, the use of satellites for communication and forecasting the weather (Clark later lamented that he had not guessed to patent this idea), the study of the planets of the solar system by spacecraft, the Internet and much more.
Arthur Clarke is also known for compiling a list of predictions for the future of humanity. Many of the predictions from his list have come true. However, from about the beginning of the 21st century, Clark’s predictions began to lag greatly, so for example, we are still waiting for the cloning of a person, the closure of the last coal mine and the delivery of samples of Martian soil to Earth. Yet Clark believed too strongly in the progress of science.
Isaac Asimov is also one of the pillars of science fiction, famous for his novels and stories about robots. And although the very concept of the robot was invented by the Czech writer Karel Čapek, it was in the works of Azimov that many key issues of robotics and artificial intelligence, robot-human interaction, etc. were first asked.
Three Laws of Robotics
The Internet as a global communication network, a global database, etc. described by many writers, but nevertheless William Gibson did it most vividly in the novel «The Neuromancer» and the sequels that followed «Count Zero» and «Mona Lisa Overdrive».
In these novels, he described cyberspace, hackers, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, viruses and hacking programs, and computer network security systems. It is noteworthy that in Gibson’s novels the defense systems are called «ice», while in reality the term «firewall» corresponds to Gibson’s ice, which literally means «wall of fire.»
A real treasure trove of fulfilled predictions is the novel «Earth» (1990), by the American writer David Brin, who, incidentally, is also an astrophysicist.
In this novel, Brin predicted:
Of course, it will not work to list all the correct or more or less correct predictions made by science fiction writers in one short article. In this article, first of all, predictions are given from the works that the authors of this article have read. I am sure that there will be many comments in the spirit of «what about …», all such comments will be fair — no one will embrace the immensity.
Well, let’s finish the article by mentioning the wonderful novel by the British science fiction writer John Branner, «Everyone stand on Zanzibar,» in which one of the characters is a president named «Obami».